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What's the Difference Between a Running Watch and an Outdoor Watch?

A lot of customers ask what the difference between running and outdoor watches is. It’s no wonder, since at first glance, it is not immediately apparent. Only once you begin to study the individual devices’ functions, you’ll find that they vary mainly in areas of use. In this guide, you’ll learn what purpose these watches serve.

Running Watch - monitors your heart rate frequency

The main function of a running watch is to measure heart rate and use it to determine optimal training intensity. As such, heart rate is key to effective training and exercising. Aside from monitoring heart rate frequency, most running watches also measure time and count steps. Higher-class running watches have other useful functions, such as GPS, recording training data, counting burnt calories, etc. Based on the measured data, the watch evaluates your training activity and helps you achieve the best results.

Running watch is therefore suitable for you if you actively exercise and want to make the best out of your efforts or if you want to have a detailed long-term record of your training. While the main purpose of a running watch is monitoring your heart rate, most feature other useful functions. GPS is not a requirement. There is a selection of both simpler running watches and more sophisticated multi-function devices – it really depends on what your requirements for a sports watch are.

Outdoor Watch - follows your trail outdoors

Outdoor devices are suitable mainly for outdoor activities. They are made of high quality materials and as such can withstand extreme conditions. Their main functions should include an altimeter, a barometer and a compass. GPS is necessary as well, since it allows you to determine your position, track your movements on a map and even find your way back. The purpose of these devices is to make your time spent outdoors easier. That’s why they feature very specific functions, i.e. a storm alarm or sunrise/sunset alerts. Some models are especially designed for hunters, allowing them to automatically detect shots, for example. Others can measure depth or provide weather forecast. Unlike running watches, outdoor watches’ functions don’t need to include heart rate monitoring, even though many do (chest strap, however, doesn’t have to be included and needs to be purchased separately). Most outdoor watches can be also used for training, although generally of the more extreme variety. Some functions can be the same as in running watches, such as stopwatch, fitness test or counting burnt calories.

All in all, outdoor devices provide comfort and useful data in terrain, whether you are training or exploring. Thanks to new technologies, they measure data precisely and have high-capacity battery, keeping you from getting lost even in the most remote places. All outdoor devices are extremely durable, which is reflected in their more robust design.

You probably noticed that some functions can be found in both types of watches. These days, most running watches include GPS and some even feature an altimeter or a compass. Alternately, outdoor watches are often compatible with a chest strap. Sometimes it is a part of the package, sometimes it needs to be purchased separately, but heart rate monitoring is now fairly common even for outdoor watches. In the end, it all comes down to where and how you want to use the watch and if you have any special requirements (display mode for night vision goggles or high water resistance for diving).

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